Licence granted to commence $620M quarry operations

AGAINST the backdrop of local construction and infrastructural booms emanating from accelerated housing programmes, massive highways and other major developments being undertaken, the quarry sector continues to be expanded to support Guyana’s developmental trajectory.

The latest effort was manifested on Monday when Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Newell Dennison, signed a licence for quarry operations with Kamaira Quarry paving the path for a $620 million operation by the local investor.

According to the Institute of Quarrying, this activity involves the process of removing rock, sand, gravel or other minerals from the ground in order to use them to produce materials for construction or other purposes.

Materials produced by quarrying are essential to everyday life, providing the construction materials to build roads, bridges and buildings, delivering vital minerals to agriculture, and supporting the generation of electricity, among other things.

Director of Kamaira Quarry, Lorenzo Alphonso, told the Guyana Chronicle that with the signing of the licence, mobilisation efforts to commence operations at the project site located in the Cuyuni Mining District, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), will begin in the first quarter of 2022.

The area identified for the project is located 11.5 kilometres west of the confluence of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni Rivers, between the Upper and Lower Kamaira Landings and the investor is seeking to develop a stone quarry within Batavia, an Amerindian Village.

Kamaira Quarry intends to first target a portion of land demarcated as “Site A”, which has an estimated resource of 5,130,000 tonnes of rip-rap, aggregate granite and gneiss rocks. Up to 450,000 tonnes of stone is intended to be mined and produced annually from the Kamaira Quarry over a mine life of five years.

Separate from producing essential building and construction materials and direct benefits, Alphonso opined that the operations will also contribute significantly, indirectly to the Guyanese economy through creating employment, among other things.

“Instead of having our own barges to ship the stone to the holding centre, we will use Guyanese contractors who have barges,” the investor told the Guyana Chronicle, which is all part of him exploring avenues to generate maximum benefit from the venture.

MASSIVE DEVELOPMENT EXPECTED
Alphonso said that the $620 million investment to fully operationalise the project is a response to President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s call for advancement in the quarrying industry against the backdrop of the massive development Guyana is set to undergo over the next five years, which will increase the demand for aggregate.

Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat, who was also present at the simple signing ceremony, explained that the signing of the licence represents a partnership between the private sector and government, as the government continues to build the sector, and increase supply to meet demand.

He noted that when the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) assumed office in August, 2020, aggregate production was below 600,000 tonnes per year, with a market demand of over 800,000 tonnes in 2020 alone, and this number has significantly increased with recent developments in the country.

“When we took over, we realised that there is a significant shortfall of resources that we have in the country.… We started the process of looking at potential investors, especially local investors, to develop quarry operations in Guyana, so that we can meet the shortfall and go beyond,” he said.

Bharrat explained that with all the major public and private developments currently ongoing, demand for building materials has skyrocketed and therefore it is incremental for local producers to be able to provide these materials to facilitate Guyana’s developmental trajectory.

CREATE JOBS, BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
“These are investments that would create jobs, business opportunities and supply a product to Guyanese at a cheaper price because obviously once we’re not importing, we can provide at a cheaper cost,” Bharrat said, as he is optimistic that Guyana could soon export aggregate, rather than import it.

The Natural Resources Minister highlighted that the Government of Guyana is working assiduously to promote Guyanese products, and on that score, he referenced the recent visit by a high-level delegation from Barbados headed by the Barbados Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Dr Williams Duguid to explore opportunities in Guyana

“There is a strong interest by Barbados to source aggregates from Guyana, not only aggregates but also wood and sand, so we’re looking at that potential market and this is where the local operators will have the opportunity to explore [sic] their products to other Caribbean countries,” he said.

Alphonso expressed gratitude to the GGMC, the Minister of Natural Resources and his team, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for facilitating a professional procedure which allowed for the granting of the licence.

“It was a good procedure, everything was a smooth flow, professionally done… I am just glad for the help we got and I advise other people that [sic] are interested in investing and getting the growth of the nation going to feel free to do so,” he said.

Also present at the signing ceremony were Jimmy Reece, Chairman of the Board of Directors, GGMC; Sase Gunraj, Legal Adviser, Kamaira Quarry; and other representatives of Kamaira Quarry and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

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